SACRAMENTO -- Winning ugly feels a lot better than losing pretty. That is the mantra the Kings need to live by in the final 27 games of the season.
It took a full 48 minutes, but the Kings (21-25) found a way to fight through some struggles Saturday night at Golden 1 Center to come away with a 100-98 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers (17-29).
The young backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland combined for 44 points and Larry Nance Jr. put up a 17-point, nine-rebound performance, but De’Aaron Fox was too much to handle.
Sacramento’s star guard put on a show in the fourth quarter and once again carried the Kings down the stretch. He saved his best for last with a Hail Mary pass to Harrison Barnes with 1.6 seconds remaining for a game-winning 3-pointer.
Here are three takeaways from the Kings' fourth straight win.
After scoring a combined 111 points over his last three games, Fox was having a quiet night. And then the fourth quarter started.
Fox got it going from the outside, hitting two 3-pointers early in the fourth to open some spacing. Then he went to the rim. With the game on the line, Fox scored 20 of his game-high 36 in the final 12 minutes.
Fox was a superstar in the fourth. His pass to Barnes gave him six assists on the night, and he once again delivered when it mattered most.
Barnes and Richaun Holmes are still developing as a frontcourt combination, but they were both really solid against the Cavs.
In his seventh straight start at power forward, Barnes posted his fourth double-double of the season, finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The veteran had been in a scoring funk over the last three games, but he was efficient in his time on the court.
Holmes had an uncharacteristically mediocre shooting night, hitting just 5-for-11 from the field. He still managed to chip in his 18th double-double of the season, hitting the Cavs for 10 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.
Baptism by Fire
With only 27 games remaining in the season, coach Luke Walton doesn’t have time to wait around for his three newly acquired players to learn the playbook. Delon Wright, Terrence Davis and Moe Harkless will have to build chemistry in games, rather than on the practice court.
After starting and playing major minutes for the Detroit Pistons for most of the season, Wright came off the Kings bench early and played 23 minutes in his Kings debut. He scored four points and handed out two assists, but he was most impactful on defense, using his size and length to bother the Cavs' guards.
Davis played solid minutes as well. He is raw, but the Kings haven’t had a physical perimeter defender like him in a long time. Davis finished with six points in 18 minutes.
After he sat out all but two of the last 31 games for the Miami Heat, the Kings plan to ease Harkless back into the lineup slowly. He went scoreless in 11 minutes in his first game with the team, but he’s known more for his defensive prowess than anything else.
The Kings got longer and more physical adding this trio, and they will improve the overall defense of the team once they get settled in.